Watch Howard High School junior guard Samiyah Nasir, and her quickness and defensive tenacity are undeniable.
Nasir modeled that quickness and tenacity after her all-time favorite NBA player, guard Muggsy Bogues. Bogues, a former Dunbar High School guard, starred on what some say is the greatest high school team ever in the mid-1980s before a 14-year NBA career.
During Nasir’s freshman season, she explained in a video why Bogues was her favorite player. Bogues later happened on the video, and thus began an unlikely friendship.
“It was exciting knowing that you’re still having an impact on the youth at this stage,” Bogues said of his initial reaction to the video. “It’s an honor. She’s such a joy to be around and having that opportunity to first see the video and then be able to meet her in person was icing on the cake.
“She’s just a joy to be around, her spirit, just her knowledge of the game, which was very surprising to me just sitting around talking to her. I was drilling her a lot, questioning her a lot about the responsibility, what goes on, and she had all the right answers in terms of being that true point guard.”
He planned to attend a Jan. 28 game against Mount Hebron to meet Nasir and watch her play in person, but the game was rescheduled because of inclement weather. Bogues met with Nasir anyway at her father’s house, and the two chatted for an hour.
“It was a great experience,” Nasir said of meeting Bogues. “I learned a lot from him in that quick little hour session. It was everything I expected it to be. He’s just a great person. His skills are unmatched and he’s a legend, so it was really an honor.”
While Nasir learned valuable lessons from Bogues about the intricacies of playing the point guard position during that conversation, Bogues focused on learning about Nasir’s basketball IQ and how she processes the game.
One lesson resonated most with Nasir as the Howard High Lions look to maintain their undefeated season.
“Point guard is the heart of the team,” Nasir said of Bogues’ message. “When the team is not doing what they’re supposed to do, as a point guard you have to pick them up. Get the energy going and create plays to help us win.”
Bogues, meanwhile, came away impressed with Nasir’s approach.
“Just her joy for the game, her joy for playing with her teammates,” Bogues said. “She really has fun and really looked forward to going out there winning, No. 1, but also not just playing for herself, playing for her team.
“Also, meeting her parents knowing that she has that balance in her life, the academics part of it. Basketball is another tool, just knowing that a kid who has a dream that’s trying to fulfill it. She’s totally in control of it, she’s not trying to rush it or shortchange it. She’s all-in for whatever it takes and I love that about her. She’s willing to put the time in to become the best that she can be.”
In April, Nasir will be part of Stephen Curry’s Underrated Tour, a program the Golden State Warriors guard started to showcase high school basketball talent that may have been overlooked by major scouting services, much as Curry once was. Nasir is one of eight girls selected to represent the East Region based out of Washington, D.C.
On the court, Nasir’s game showcases similarities to Bogues’.
Nasir is often tasked with guarding the opposition’s best player, an area in which she thrives. Much of that defensive success can be attributed to her quickness and intensity, two defining characteristics of Bogues’ play in the NBA.
Bogues, at 5 feet, 3 inches, is the shortest player in NBA history. He was known for his athleticism and quickness on the floor and averaged 1.5 steals and 7.6 assists for his career.
“His speed, that’s the first thing I noticed,” Nasir said of what attracted her to Bogues’ game. “He’s very good defensively as well. Stays low to the ground on defense and he’s always at a high intensity, and that’s basically how I play.”
Nasir’s defensive instincts have helped further her development as a key starter for Howard High (11-0 overall, 9-0 in Howard County), a winner of 36 straight games dating to the start of the 2019-20 season.
Nasir’s mom first made the comparison between the two, and it’s stuck ever since.
“She was mentioning when I was younger, I was really quick and just showing defense early in my basketball career,” Nasir said. “She was like, ‘You look exactly like Muggsy Bogues.’ I had started showing interest and studying his game, picked it up and developed his skills.”
Like Muggsy, Nasir has her own nickname. Named Tyrone, Bogues said in a 2015 Players’ Tribune article that he earned the nickname from a friend’s older brother, who said Bogues reminded him of Muggsy from the film series “The Bowery Boys.”
Nasir earned the moniker “Chicago” from her former AAU coach, who struggled to pronounce her name but knew about Nasir’s father’s ties to the nation’s third-largest city.
Now, as the season progresses, Nasir will look to maintain that same impact on both ends of the floor emulating Bogues.
“That’s awesome that he’s her mentor,” Howard coach Scott Robinson said. “He’s arguably one of the greatest point guards of all time. What a better mentor to have? I think that’s an awesome relationship that they’ve built. The fact that he cares that much about her, that he’s following her or giving her advice, I think it’s a great thing.”